Sunday, March 30, 2008

Antarctic Wildlife From The Deck of a Ship

People who visit Antarctica go there for the scenery and wildlife. Of course being able to say you've been to Antarctica sounds good too.

Some of the main stream cruise lines like Holland America and Princess, as part of their South America itineraries, now offer cruises to Antarctica. But read the details carefully as those cruises are truly cruises. There are no landings and the passengers will be spending 4-6 days at sea between cruising the Drake Passage and cruising around Antarctica. All viewing of scenery and wildlife will be from the deck of a ship.

We wanted more on our trip. We wanted to be able to make landings. We wanted to be able to say we had actually planted our feet on the Antarctic continent. And we wanted our wildlife experiences to be up close and personal.

We investigated many options. Most of the ships that make landings have a very small passenger contingent. That is because the IAATO specifies no more than 100 people ashore at any one time. Because of economy of scale, these small ships are very expensive.

We finally found a ship which carries, at maximum, 400 passengers and rotates the passengers during the landings. Everyone has, at minimum, an hour ashore. With a much more reasonable price, we booked. (More on our ship experience in a future post.)

Of course anyone who sails to Antarctica will see wildlife from the ship. During one of our afternoon's cruising we came upon crabeater seals relaxing on an ice flow. (Note the blood on the ice and the injury on one of the seals.)

We had a big surprise another day, seeing on the same ice floe, gentoo penguins and a leopoard seal. The leopard seal is a mortal enemy of penquins, literally tearing them apart. It was most unexpected seeing them on the same ice floe.

Of course it's super seeing the wildlife like this. But it doesn't compare to seeing them up close. Those up close and personal pictures will be coming here soon.

1 comment:

cynthia stanley said...

I love the photos..who took them knows their subject very well.